Edmonton Fire Rescue Services is as predictable as the North Saskatchewan River isn’t — especially at this time of year.
That valuable double lesson was learned by four buddies who turned a close call on the river recently into a lifesaving learning opportunity for their schoolmates.
“We now understand the dangers of a flowing river and we understand the hardships firefighters go through to get a truck out, let alone five of them,” the boys stated in a letter of apology to Edmonton Fire Rescue Services last month.
That afternoon, Justin, Jon, Rykan and Orion went on a little adventure that could have ended tragically. While walking home, the 13-year-old boys decided to go down to the shores of the North Saskatchewan River near the James MacDonald Bridge. Before they knew it, they made the mistake of walking onto the ice.
Moments later, Edmonton Fire Rescue Services responded to a call after a passerby thought the boys had fallen through the ice. Firefighters responded immediately, prepared to rescue them from a potentially dangerous situation. Thankfully the boys were okay and made it back safely to the river bank before firefighters arrived.
The experience taught the teens an important lesson about risk to both themselves and the firefighters who responded to the call. Walking on the ice of the North Saskatchewan River is never safe as the thickness of the ice can be deceiving.
Justin, Jon, Rykan and Orion have now become advocates for ice and river safety. They are spreading the message at their schools and their scouts group, hoping to encourage others to learn from their experience and to stay off the ice.
The teens may have made a serious error when they chose to venture onto the ice that day, but they deserve recognition for the courage they have shown in coming forward to prevent others from playing a game of ice roulette.
As we head into the spring and summer months, please exercise caution and good judgement around the North Saskatchewan River as it is a powerful and fast-moving river and the banks of can be unstable and unpredictable.